A months-long saga that began in December with the announcement that Carolina Panther founder and owner Jerry Richardson would put the team up for sale came to an end Monday when the sale of the team to billionaire hedge-fund manager David Tepper, the founder and president of Appaloosa Management, L.P., closed and became official.
Tepper, who previously was a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was on site at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte speaking to various personnel and touring the facilities after completing a purchase that is believed to have been priced between $2.2 and $2.3 billion; although the 60-year old has pledged to keep the team in Charlotte, it is unclear how much tradition and staff he will carry on from former owner Richardson and there will be many questions as the team heads to Spartanburg in a few weeks to begin their first training camp under a new owner, but for now, it is all smiles at Bank of America Stadium.
“I am thrilled to begin this new era of Carolina Panthers football and am humbled by the overwhelming excitement and support for the team,” Tepper said via the team’s website. “On behalf of the fans and myself, I thank Jerry Richardson for bringing the team to the Carolinas and for entrusting me with its future. Winning is the most important thing both on the field and in the community, and I am committed to winning a Super Bowl championship together.
“I look forward to being part of the Panthers’ family and to supporting this flourishing region.”
Tepper becomes the team’s second majority owner – it is unknown at this time whether he will bring on minority owners, although he said in May when he was approved by NFL owners that he sees the advantage to partnering with local groups to help involve the community; the team’s first owner and founder, Richardson, who placed the team for sale amid allegations of workplace misconduct, issued a letter to the community in which he spoke for both himself and his wife, Rosalind.
“We are grateful to the Carolina community for the love and support you have shown your Panthers. Your enthusiasm for football and devotion to the team has been a source of strength for us and for everyone who calls the Carolinas home. We also want to thank the Panthers organization for delivering great football and a great fan experience, week after week, for almost a quarter-century. Your hard work and dedication has not gone unnoticed. You have made a measurable difference and you made us proud.”
“I wish Mr. Tepper all the best; the team is in good hands.”
Within an hour of the sale being announced, Panthers chief operating officer Tina Becker announced her resignation; Becker, who had been with the team for over 19 years, had been controlling day-to-day operations since Richardson stepped down in December of last year. There is no immediate replacement for Becker or for the position of team president, which has been vacant since Danny Morrison resigned in February of 2017.
In perhaps a small sign of change from the past regime, new owner Tepper will address the media tomorrow – Richardson hadn’t spoken with the media via press conference since 2011.